Over the next two weeks, Acme Packing Company takes a look at each position group on the Green Bay Packers and provides grades and insight on how they performed in the 2017 season. Today, we examine the tight end position.
The Packers have a single tight end hitting the free agent market this spring, and he is the second unrestricted free agent of our breakdown so far, joining wide receiver Jeff Janis.
NFL Experience: 4 years
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
Previous contract: 4 years, $2,761,016 total; additional $1,127,000 in 2017 due to performance-based pay
2017 Stats: 15 games, 1 start; 19 targets, 12 receptions, 160 yards (13.3 yards per reception), 1 TD
The Packers’ former starter at tight end — a third-round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft — took a back seat over the first half of the season as Martellus Bennett dominated the snap count at the position. After Bennett made his way out of Green Bay, Rodgers split snaps relatively with Lance Kendricks, usually getting a few snaps per game fewer than his counterpart.
All told, Rodgers played about 30% of the team’s offensive snaps while being a key part of the special teams units; he lined up on just over 25% of those plays as well.
Rodgers’ best year was in 2015, but that was largely by default; he was the starter that season because the Packers had little else at the position and although he caught 68% of his targets, he averaged a brutal 8.8 yards per reception. Where he was most notable was in the red zone, as he caught eight touchdowns; the only one longer than 16 yards that season was a certain memorable Hail Mary in Detroit.
As for Rodgers’ destination and eventual payday, don’t expect him to rake in a big contract. He’s not a dynamic pass-catcher, as his 510 yards in 2015 were entirely a function of target volume (85 total that season). He’s also not a plus blocker. What he does offer is some versatility and special teams ability.
All told, Rodgers is best suited to being a #2 or #3 tight end, the role he played in Green Bay in 2017. Those kinds of players don’t get paid much, and Pro Football Focus expects him to get a deal around the veteran minimum. My suspicion is that he could get something a bit more than that, at least something that comes with a modest signing bonus.
One interesting connection Rodgers has is that his father, Richard, is the assistant defensive backs/safeties coach for the Carolina Panthers. It’s possible that the younger Richard could be interested in playing in Charlotte to be closer to his dad, though that is purely speculation.